Hauling Farm Animals: Readers Share Their Own Stories (Update 2)


From GENE LOGSDON

[Last week, Gene Logsdon posted his article: Hauling Farm Animals. As we all know, laughter loves company, and sure enough, his readers had some of their own… -DS]

Karen: A friend of mine saw a sheep being transported on a motorcyle.. she said the sheep sat backwards and the man and sheep had a long belt of some kind tying them together around the middle. It took her several days before she mentioned it due to the fact that she thought maybe she was having some sort of drug flashback.!!

Katie: I regularly help my good friend move her cows. It’s one of the only ways I ever get to see her, and I have a 4×4 truck and trailer. She lives way out in the boonies on a crazy steep, narrow mountainous gravel road about five miles off a crazy narrow mountainous paved road. Well it’s nerve racking to drive a beautiful bull down this road… just miss the part that washed out with the outside tire, then over the narrow railroad car bridge. Up the steep narrow rock cliff sided road where a boulder lodged on the side of the road gave me about an inch on both sides clearance. Then headed straight downhill on a steep, steep grade and had to turn into a little small road to the left, another rock face, barely made that turn, would have jack knifed the trailer if I’d even thought of backing up that steep grade. Then in, sinking on her back entrance road with my heavy rig. Keep going forward, tight turn, back up exactly to the gate, no chute (too expensive). I was sweating when we were done. I said to her “Why did you think I could drive this in?” She says “…well my two nephews and my sister wouldn’t try it , so I called you”. Had to leave the trailer there for a while before braving another trip. And I’m a girl!

Gene responds: Karen and Katie, someone should organize a story telling festival on the subject of moving farm animals. Once I had only to haul a steer in the barn about a football field’s length to the slaughterhouse at the other end of the barnyard. Heck, I’ll just drive him like in git along little dogies. No way. So I put a rope around his neck, tied the other end to the tractor and dragged him along. He jacked around until his head was up against the big tractor tire at which point he broke off the valve stem.

Istvan: My first encounter with livestock hauling came last fall when my first goat, a Toggenburg doe came into heat. I called the breeder and he asked me to drive her down that minute–1.5 hours away. The only thing I had was my 4 door compact car. After lining the back seat with plastic and then with a soft blanket I loaded her in, quite easily; after all, all goats are almost like dogs. The comedy came when we drove past the Lancaster County fairgrounds while the fair was in session and got stuck at a red light. You’d think nobody ever saw a goat in the back seat of a car! The downside to all of this is that bucks really smell and after her evening of romance she brought that goaty musky odor into the car with her and when she decided it was time to relieve her bladder, well, let’s just say I’m glad I lined the car with plastic and an absorbent blanket. In the end, she did get pregnant and I’m able to supply my home with fresh milk every day. Now, what to do with the twin bucks she had?

Jan: You haven’t lived ’till you’ve taken six people and two goats in a 1980 diesel Vanagon (48 horsepower on a good day, at sea-level) over a two-lane mountain pass. I’m not sure what was worse, the horns or the bleating, or people displaying their IQ using digital technology as they blasted past in the short passing zones.

Teresa: Boy Gene, I get anxious just reading your article, lol. It always begins the night before, because we don’t get any sleep worrying how well the hogs or whatever livestock will load in the morning! It is amazing how just a few feet can make life grand, such as, the hogs walking into a horse trailer instead of all but being lifted into a pick up bed, lol. If we had a butcher that would come this far out I would use that service for sure! But then, I would be deprived at the looks of amazement when my fellow interstate drivers realize there is HOG, not a pig, but a huge hog right beside them tootlin’ down the road. Yes, Virginia, bacon really does come from hog *grin*.

Ian: Now my friends raising pastured hogs use a trick to load; get a pail on the head of the pig and back him up the ramp into the trailer. The pigs wants to get the pail off he just moves where you want him to. I haven’t tried yet, have you Gene? As for loading steers, my farmer friend said, just put the trailer in the paddock or corral, put some grain in there, don’t feed much or anywhere else, and after two days that steer will be in the trailer waiting for you to take him to market. It worked just like that for me.

Beth: Oh, my… now that I’ve stopped laughing… what an appropriate post! My husband just called to tell me of his travails in loading two 90-100 pound pigs into the wire mesh trailer, pulled by a 4 wheeler, that we usually use for firewood. Since the pigs were just up the road a mile or so it wasn’t worth putting the racks on the pickup; it was easier to throw a piece of plywood over the open trailer and just boogie on down the road. He’s hauled plenty of pigs, cows, horses and chickens in one sort of conveyance or another (I favor either the stock trailer or a horse trailer with a ramp, myself), and nearly always has something picturesque to say about it afterwards. We do have a butcher who will come and do an on-farm kill, but there’s been plenty of times we’ve done it all ourselves. After my dining room table acquired a sizable gouge from the skill saw my dearly beloved was using to cut the larger bones of the elk he was butchering in the kitchen–much easier than a boning saw, in his opinion–I laid down a few rules about what and where we would butcher!

Payne: That fish analogy made me grin. I remember having a dog when I was a kid that made the mistake of being at the bottom of the ramp curiously staring at the critters getting ready to be released. After he got trampled by ten or so sheep I think he was the only 160 lb black lab in history to have a fear of sheep.

[UPDATE 1]

Russ: Good stories. Reading them reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in years that happened back in the early 70’s when I was in my early 20’s. I had rented some pasture ground on some state owned land and had put a group of open dairy heifers and a young bull on it. The bull became more and more aggressive as the summer passed and I always kept an eye on him when I would walk the pasture to inspect them. Toward the end of the summer, as I was walking away from the group toward the gate in a fairly open area, the bull started a charge toward me. There was one tree with fairly low branches in that area and I ran and scrambled up in time to avoid contact. He hung around pawing the ground for awhile, but finally lost interest and went back to the heifers. I was able to make a safe dash to the gate and decided it was time for the bull to meet his maker so that he could be remembered fondly around the dinner table. The problem would be loading him – there was no corral and no safe way to work him onto a trailer by myself. I ended up borrowing a stock trailer and pulling out into the pasture close to the tree of life when the cattle were a distance away. I then opened the back door and the front side door, made sure I got noticed by the cattle and climbed the tree. Sure enough, he came charging toward the tree. When he gave up like before and started to walk away, I yelled, jumped down from the tree and made a dash for the trailer. He took the bait and came running full tilt as I ran into the trailer. The timing was pretty good, thankfully, with him running into the trailer just as I was slamming the front door shut and latching it and then running back to do the same thing to the back swinging door before he figured out he’d been had. After I cleaned out my pants and got my heart rate back down to a couple hundred beats per minute, I hauled him straight to the butcher.

Sabrina: Loved your story, Gene! I’ve lived on a farm all of my life, so I’ve seen plenty of animal hauling chaos. But my own personal worst experience came on the day I traveled to a farm 50 miles away in my mini-van to bring home a flock of laying hens. I was prepared with several dog crates of various sizes and a few extra cardboard boxes. The seller was wonderful: all the chickens were caught and in containers when I arrived. All we had to do was transfer a few from her crates to mine. Then I was off!

Within two minutes I became aware of a strong chicken poop odor beginning to fill the van. After a few miles of cheerfully denying the intensity of the vapors, I decided to roll down my window and brave the voluminous dust of the gravel road I was traveling. By the time I reached the paved four-lane HWY #2 I could no longer breath. Although HWY #2 passes through several small towns that require vehicles to decelerate to 50 mph, I was seeking oxygen in too great a quantity to slow down. In fact, I was flying down the highway at 80 mph with my head straining out of the driver’s side window like a retriever. My usual concern for highway patrols and courtesy had been melted away by the caustic fumes of my fellow passengers. Besides, I was sure that if a patroller could actually force me to pull over, he would have been on my side anyway. Once I hit the network of county roads that eventually lead to my farm, my speed and reckless abandon increased. After careening down our mile-long two-rut driveway at breakneck speed, the chickens and I came to a skidding halt in my back yard. At which point I bailed from the vehicle and stumbled toward my bewildered husband gasping for breath. Thankfully, my husband agreed to unload the chickens while I tried to scrub the stink of them off in the shower.

Perhaps I was successful in my bathing efforts. However, the noxious fumes must have scalded my nasal passages beyond repair. No matter how many times I showered and changed my clothes; no matter how many days and nights the van windows were left open, all I could smell for weeks was the overpowering and lingering scent of fresh chicken poop!

[Update 2]

David Z: Gene, Such moves don’t always turn out, either. When I first started playing in the dirt a few years ago I bought a Jersey cow and her calf sight unseen. They were 400 miles from where I am. Undeterred, I hooked up the trailer I bought from Harbor Freight as a kit. It was designed to be a flat 4′ by 8′ trailer, but I built the deck out over the little 12″ wheels and put sides on it an away I went, pulling it w/ my 15 year old Toyota pickup. It wasn’t easy getting that girl and her calf in that crappy little trailer, but we somehow managed. I put a tarp over the top so she wouldn’t be tempted to jump out and off I went to be a dairy farmer. Well, I got maybe 2 miles and going around a corner on some gravel country road I heard and felt this horrible crash. I slammed on the brakes and there’s my ‘livestock trailer’ w/ the wheels straight up in the air. Before I’d even gathered myself to even process what was going on, here’s this big brown head pushing out from under the side of the upside down trailer. She slithered out and got to her feet. A moment later out pushes the calf as well. Miraculously neither of them appeared to be injured. By that time a couple of guys in a full sized truck pulled up and ran up to try to keep the animals from heading for who knows where. The adjacent property owners also heard the ruckus and were out helping to corral them as well. They said ‘Here’s a gate right here…just run them in there until you can pick them up. Don’t worry about it, they’ll be fine.’

The 2 guys in the truck helped me flip the trailer back over and get it hooked back up to my truck. They asked what happened and I told them I’d bought the cow and calf from some folks down the road and I was taking them back to Illinois (we were about 30 miles west of Louisville Ky. They looked at each other in disbelief and then at me and one of them said “In THAT????”.

A couple weeks later I went back riding shotgun in the cab a full sized truck pulling a real livestock trailer and brought them home. Given what was involved it was a bargain at $400. I still have both the cow and the trailer but I don’t try to match them up after that experience.
~~
Crossposted to OrganicToBe.org

~~

5 Comments

I haven’t laughed so hard at a collection of rural stories since my days of reading the likes of Don Mitchell (http://www.amazon.com/Moving-Upcountry-Yankee-Way-Knowledge/dp/0899090311) and the late Noel Perrin (http://www.amazon.com/First-Person-Rural-Essays-Sometime/dp/087923833X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272421447&sr=1-3)

Thanks!

I used to sell hogs at Middendorf stockyards east of Botkins, Ohio, and they had a newspaper photograph of an oriental guy taking his hog to market: the hog was strapped to a ladder-like apparatus, and the guy was carrying the hog on his shoulders. It wasn’t a small hog. I looked at the photo and thought to myself, the real trick was getting the hog tied to the apparatus. The only way I could imagine a hog allowing that to happen involved large amounts of alcohol, applied to the hog. Then again, maybe it was already dead.

Animal breeds also differ in their ability to be moved: I think Landrace hogs set the standard for contrarian animals. They had a way of sensing what your plans were, and then destroying your plans.

Gene,

Such moves don’t always turn out, either. When I first started playing in the dirt a few years ago I bought a Jersey cow and her calf sight unseen. They were 400 miles from where I am. Undeterred, I hooked up the trailer I bought from Harbor Freight as a kit. It was designed to be a flat 4′ by 8′ trailer, but I built the deck out over the little 12″ wheels and put sides on it an away I went, pulling it w/ my 15 year old Toyota pickup. It wasn’t easy getting that girl and her calf in that crappy little trailer, but we somehow managed. I put a tarp over the top so she wouldn’t be tempted to jump out and off I went to be a dairy farmer. Well, I got maybe 2 miles and going around a corner on some gravel country road I heard and felt this horrible crash. I slammed on the brakes and there’s my ‘livestock trailer’ w/ the wheels straight up in the air. Before I’d even gathered myself to even process what was going on, here’s this big brown head pushing out from under the side of the upside down trailer. She slithered out and got to her feet. A moment later out pushes the calf as well. Miraculously neither of them appeared to be injured. By that time a couple of guys in a full sized truck pulled up and ran up to try to keep the animals from heading for who knows where. The adjacent property owners also heard the ruckus and were out helping to corral them as well. They said ‘Here’s a gate right here…just run them in there until you can pick them up. Don’t worry about it, they’ll be fine.’

The 2 guys in the truck helped me flip the trailer back over and get it hooked back up to my truck. They asked what happened and I told them I’d bought the cow and calf from some folks down the road and I was taking them back to Illinois (we were about 30 miles west of Louisville Ky. They looked at each other in disbelief and then at me and one of them said “In THAT????”.

A couple weeks later I went back riding shotgun in the cab a full sized truck pulling a real livestock trailer and brought them home. Given what was involved it was a bargain at $400. I still have both the cow and the trailer but I don’t try to match them up after that experience.

Gene,
I had a buddy whose dad moved a horse in a station wagon back in the eighties. I never got the full story how it went down, but I can only imagine.

Good stories. Reading them reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in years that happened back in the early 70’s when I was in my early 20’s. I had rented some pasture ground on some state owned land and had put a group of open dairy heifers and a young bull on it. The bull became more and more aggressive as the summer passed and I always kept an eye on him when I would walk the pasture to inspect them. Toward the end of the summer, as I was walking away from the group toward the gate in a fairly open area, the bull started a charge toward me. There was one tree with fairly low branches in that area and I ran and scrambled up in time to avoid contact. He hung around pawing the ground for awhile, but finally lost interest and went back to the heifers. I was able to make a safe dash to the gate and decided it was time for the bull to meet his maker so that he could be remembered fondly around the dinner table. The problem would be loading him – there was no corral and no safe way to work him onto a trailer by myself. I ended up borrowing a stock trailer and pulling out into the pasture close to the tree of life when the cattle were a distance away. I then opened the back door and the front side door, made sure I got noticed by the cattle and climbed the tree. Sure enough, he came charging toward the tree. When he gave up like before and started to walk away, I yelled, jumped down from the tree and made a dash for the trailer. He took the bait and came running full tilt as I ran into the trailer. The timing was pretty good, thankfully, with him running into the trailer just as I was slamming the front door shut and latching it and then running back to do the same thing to the back swinging door before he figured out he’d been had. After I cleaned out my pants and got my heart rate back down to a couple hundred beats per minute, I hauled him straight to the butcher.

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